Sabbatical: Race #2

Kentucky ✔

I found the Iron Horse Half Marathon race online. It is slated as a top destination race by Runner’s World. I now know why.

Midway, Kentucky isn’t far from downtown Lexington. Population, less than 2000. They may have as many horses. And this morning, it seemed about half the town was running the race.

The course really was picturesque. If you are a horselover and a runner, you should schedule this race. Be advised, it’s hilly. But you’ll be glad you did it. You feel like you are spending the morning on the horse farm. Very unique setting.

As for my “performance,” this was a test. How would I do running two halves back to back? How prepared was I? Would I manage myself well before, during, and after both races? 

I give myself a 90%. Surprisingly my thighs are worse off than my calves. I’ll take these two results happily and move on to State #15, possibly thus next Saturday. Stay tuned

Advertisements

Sabbatical: Race #1

Indiana✔

Almost 1,600 of us converged on the streets of Evansville, Indiana, at 7amCST to run 13.1 miles. I finished in 2:03:31. Pleased with that.

EVENT REVIEW:

Everything about this race was done very well. 

  • Packet pickup was easy to find and speedy. (We got buckets along with our goodie bags…still not sure why)
  • Race parking was a breeze-plenty of it, and I unknowingly parked one block from the start line. Unheard of. 
  • The course was mostly flat-perfect for Floridians. It weaved nicely through neighborhoods and parks. 
  • The community presence was great. Very few areas weren’t covered with spectators, volunteers, first aid, or policemen.
  • Plenty of encouragement and refreshments at the finish line. Shout out to the announcer for calling out “John Gregory from Bradenton, Florida” repeatedly until the crowd cheered.

PERFORMANCE REVIEW: 

  • If I weren’t running again in the morning, I probably could have pushed to get under 2 hours. Good to know.
  • My pace stayed pretty steady through 10M. 57-degree start had a lot to do with that.
  • I surprised myself being able to pick up the pace the last half mile. Assimilating that on the treadmill pays off.
  • Shout out to Holly and another young lady who unknowingly paced me from miles 9-11. Strong job, Ladies.
  • State 13 done. On to 14 tomorrow. (Bucket list item: run a race in every state)

Obstacles: Sometimes You Have to be Your Own Generator

It’s been two weeks since Irma. Much continues to happen around the world with natural disasters. In our town, we haven’t had to deal with the devastation of other places. Regardless of how impactful the storm, one thing is true for anyone living in a post-storm world: things aren’t normal. Normal has been replaced, if not permanently, at least temporarily.

This was clear the first day I went for a run. It was Tuesday morning, not much longer than 24 hours post-storm.

As odd as it sounds, I literally had to tell myself that it was okay to go for a run. I’m sure to many it would have been the furtherest thing from their mind. To me, it was what I should do. It is my routine, and I should do it even if I didn’t want to or questioned if I should.

I did a 5.7-mile route through West Bradenton. A little darker than usual, even for early morning hours. Darkened street lights, humming generators, and impassable sidewalks were obstacles to my normal carefree run. Watching traffic on Cortez Road between 51st and 75th was interesting; actually on this entire route it was. Non-working traffic lights (5 out of 9) were catching many drivers offguard. They were having to pay more attention because routine was broken.

When routine is broken, when there are obstacles in life to doing what we are accustomed to doing, it can be quite jolting, to some life-altering. All of these things I noticed on my run were simple examples of obstacles that post-storm living presents. And if you allow them to, these obstacles can appear overwhelming and unnavigable. They can appear to be.

If the appearance grips us with fear, we would do well to step back and let our brains catch up to our emotions. Our brains can help us see…

  • …taking a shower by flashlight is doable.
  • …if you don’t know how to do something, most likely you know someone who does.
  • …a new routine will take more time…so leave earlier for work, allow more grace to other drivers, and expect the unexpected.
  • …the obstacle may not be addressable in the desired timeframe. That’s okay. Give time to yourself and to others to get it addressed in a safe and wise manner.
  • …obstacles don’t automatically mean you can’t do your thing.  They may just cause you to have to figure out a different way.
  • …like many pre-storm days, the best motivation is self-motivation. Sometimes you have to be your own generator.

The Night Before

It’s after 8pm. So being an obedient Manatee County resident, I’m off the streets. Waiting.

Marathon runners know what this feels like. You’ve prepped all you can for your race. You’ve laid everything out for the next morning. The alarm is set; you know because you’ve checked it a gazillion times. You’ve stretched, or not. You’ve attached your race bib, or not. You’ve prepared your liquids, or not. You most certainly have eaten your last meal and properly hydrated. And now you wait. The long night has started; and if it’s your first 26.1, it will most likely feel like the longest night of your life.

You make yourself go to bed; and after about an hour of asking yourself ridiculous questions about tomorrow, you somehow fall asleep…only to wake up thinking the alarm didn’t work because surely the night is over, but the clock says it’s been less than two hours. If you’re lucky, you’ll repeat this cycle a couple of times. And each time you ask yourself another question before falling asleep, “Why can’t I stay asleep?”

And from my experience, here’s the answer-anticipation of the unknown. 

  • Can I make it the full distance?
  • What if it starts raining?
  • They say you hit a wall at mile 18. What does that feel like?
  • Did my training plan really prepare me?
  • How will I feel when it’s over?

These questions can go on and on. And they probably will until the race startgun sounds. And then, for the most part, after about mile two, they stop. You’re not normal if they don’t return at some point during the race, but you find a way to cross the finish line.

So here’s to the night before. You’ve done all you can. Followed your game plan. Put your trust in the right hands. Prayed for endurance to last all the way to the finish line. 

It will come. One way or another, it will come. 

But right now, it’s the night before. And you wait. 

Think about that finish line. It will come.

When Has God Spoken to You (Journal Exercise Suggestion)

The back was too tight to do a morning run this morning (that’s what stretching and treadmill runs later in the day are for); so instead, God and I had a longer than usual conversation.

During the conversation I got a pretty clear message of something I am to do this week. Receiving that message made me ask this question, “If I made a list of the ‘big, writing-on-the-wall’ messages I’ve gotten from God in my life, what would that include?” 

Seemed like a good exercise, so I did it before I left for the office. As it turns out, in 30 years of adult living, I’d say I’ve received nine such messages. To be clear, “Be nice to idiots is not a ‘big’ message.” The daily messages we receive from the Holy Spirit are nothing more than atuning ourselves to communicating with Him regularly. A big message is something like, “Change your career path,” “I promise you if you’ll stop saying ‘no’ to me about this direction you’ll be 100% satisfied,” or “You’ve been waiting for the green light. Here it is.”

You might call these markers. Markers are specific times or places in our lives where significant things happen. Sure, your wedding day, your child’s birthday, and other physical events are markers. This intentional, spiritual exercise makes you think about your conversations-with-God markers. They can remind you who has been for you, where he has been with you, and what he has done through you.

So what are you waiting for? Get a blank page in front of you. Answer the question. You never know; another “big” message might be ready to get marked.

But I Don’t Want To

One reality to living alone-if you don’t do the chores, ain’t nobody else going to either. As a task-oriented guy, not usually a big deal.

But then there’s these two things: mopping and dusting. What is it with these two? Does anyone else dislike them as much as I do? I won’t tell you my lack of getting them done in order to protect my reputation of being neat and tidy.

I’ve noticed something else. There are also some spiritual disciplines that I have the same problem with. Just like house chores, some spiritual disciplines are just more enjoyable, easier, or natural. Yet, when I make myself do the less enjoyable ones, just like when I dust or mop, I’m glad I did. Like the reflection of mopped tile, my soul feels cleaner and more reflective of God.

So how do we tackle these “but I don’t want to” chores and disciplines? It doesn’t seem to work to wait until the mood strikes or to just suck it up and grudgingly put them on the to do list, on which they seem to easily get bumped down. I’m not sure what would work for you, but I can tell you what happened today to cause me to dust. I decided I wanted to see clean, to see a reflection more than anything else. It comes down to choice, to wanting better, to having the end in mind, to not settling for easy. My want has to change.

The example I can draw from in a different area of my life is running. Right now, I’m back to running 20+ miles a week-haven’t been there in almost 4 years. I’m doing that to build a foundation that will prepare me to train for the longest race in my life next year. I want to run this race. I don’t always want to get up in the dark and run. I don’t always want to endure the summer humidity. But when I remember the end in mind, I get up and hit the road. And I’m glad I did when I finish.

What’s your end game? What do you need to decide you want in order to do what you don’t want to do? Nail it down. You’ll be glad you did.

Good Crying

Crying. When you think of that action, most likely you think of something bad or sad happening. It ain’t good if you’re crying.

During a segment on 60 Minutes tonight, a NASA engineer described going home the night after a stressful but successful project of landing Curiosity, a car-sized robotic rover exploring Gale Crater on Mars. He said, “I crawled into bed with my wife and wept.” He didn’t sound sad at all. He sounded joyfully spent, exhaustedly happy. 

Have you ever experienced that kind of crying? You might call it having a good cry. I’ve had some. One that particularly comes to mind was at the end of my last marathon in 2012. I tried to control it, but there was no controlling it. I was joyfully spent, exhaustedly happy.

What are you working on that you are so committed to that when it’s over you could have a good cry? What life mission are you following that makes you have a good cry occasionally? When was your last good cry?

Go after being joyfully spent. Go after good crying.

Running Tuesdays: My Recovery Gadgets

I have issues. And I have solutions.

Main issue-tight muscles. Issue number one is tight calf muscles. So, more and more I’m relying on heat and ice to fight off injury-ice after the run, heat in between runs. This gel pack is one of the best items I’ve received in a race goodie bag. So useful. 

This item, called The Stick, works for muscles all over the body. It is a daily solution, particularly for my legs. Worth every penny.

For my neck and any other trigger points, this item works wonders. It’s called The Trigger Wheel.

These are a few of the items that keep me on the road. What keeps you moving?

Running Tuesdays: Recovery That’s Right for You

by Michael Wilder

​When it comes to running, finding a way to recover in between runs is extremely important. Recovery allows your body to adjust, strengthen, or maintain your muscles. It sounds like a no brainer, but your muscles all over your body are the reason you can run. Muscles need time to rest in order to function correctly

​I’m currently in the process of running towards my goal of 1,000 miles in 2017. As of today I am 28% of the way (275 miles). With the extra miles I am running each week, my body has really felt it…way more than marathon training! ​For marathon training, the miles were short, short, and then really long. The two runs during the week were maintenance runs, while the one run on the weekend was a long run increasing distance to build up endurance. The following week was 3 short runs to preserve the progress. Basically, the week with 3 short runs were like a week “off” of running. It allowed my body to recover slowly to meet the next week’s increase of miles. ​Trying to reach my goal of 1,000 miles, I have pushed my body more than in the past. I need to run at least 20 miles a week to reach that goal. Knowing my future schedule and the hot Florida summer, I am “banking” miles as much as I can. Instead of going for 20 miles a week, I am reaching towards 30 miles a week. 

​With this increased mileage on my body and muscles, recovery is a must. Since I don’t have those “rest” weeks as I would during marathon training, I use the days in between to achieve rest. I only run 3 times a week with 2 days off between my “longer” weekend runs. I tried to run 4 to 5 times a week to achieve my goal, but my body and schedule did not groove with that plan. So I just run longer 3 times a week instead of running more frequently with shorter distances. This plan has been working for me for the last 2 months.

​Besides using rest days to aid recovery, I do yoga on the days I do rest. Like I said on another blog post, I am a big fan of runners and athletes doing yoga. Yoga stretches the muscles as well as focuses the mind. Yoga allows the muscles to release the tension and toxics that get built up from overusage. I try to do my yoga DVDs twice a week.

The last thing I do for recover is foam roll before bed every night. The benefits of foam rolling are to soothe tight, sore areas (known as “trigger points”) and speed up muscle recovery. The foam roller I have has a PVC pipe as its core so there is no bend or sag unlike ones that are just foam. Let’s just say to me foam rolling feels amazing but is a very awkward yet intimate experience.

​Having a plan of recovery for a runner is important, especially for me who is trying to achieve a high mile goal. The bottom line is you need to find and have a plan that fits you. It’s your body, your muscles, and your time. So do what feels best and right for you!

Running Tuesdays: Hype or Hope or Hypothermia (Recovering after a run)

by Lorraine Kennimouth Williams

I remember my first long run; it was approximately 10 years ago when I ran 11 miles without stopping! I was jubilant and I was DEAD; absolutely worn out, the rest of the day was a fog! I remember wondering how people were capable of running such high mileage and then getting on with the rest of their day. I would hear conversations like, “I am going to Ikea after this to pick up a bed for the baby,” or, “I can’t go to breakfast because I have to attend my son’s little league game,” or, “After this we’re off to Disney,” and so on – and all I could think was, “After this I am going home to die on the couch”! I just couldn’t imagine it! Each week when I would run 10+ miles on a Sunday morning I would literally be spent! 

After doing a little research I was introduced to post workout drinks. These were supposed to replenish the nutrients your body loses on such long runs; they are touted as having the perfect 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein. So I tried them – I tried all of them! And …. although I received favorable feedback from others who tried these concoctions, it was hundreds of dollars later when I decided they didn’t work for me.  

Let me attempt to explain how I felt after one of these gargantuan runs. I didn’t feel achy or stiff. It wasn’t even about tired limbs; it was plain and simple fatigue that would permeate my entire being and reduce me to a blob of nothingness that could do nothing more than flop on a couch.

One day I read an article that stated ice baths were the key to rid the body of “fatigue blues” – I went for it – No holds barred! My preferred method was as follows…. Fill the tub with tepid (almost cold) water, enough water to cover legs and hips – almost waist high. Have 30-1bs bag of ice within arms reach of the bath tub. Carefully climb into water – fully clothed (don’t change out of running gear to include socks). Once body is fully immersed, slowly empty the ice into the water – Brrr! The trick is to try and remain perfectly still and not hold your breath. Now …. Stay like that for 20 minutes! After the alarm goes off, JUMP out of tub, rip off freezing wet clothes as fast as viably possible, dry off and wrap yourself in warm towels. Once you are swaddled in towels, jump into bed until your body slowly regains feeling and then take a nice hot shower – Voila! 

Okay, this is torture – but it WORKS! It really, really works! I found myself doing this after every long run – the benefits were worth the 20 minutes of torture. Let me explain what it did for me. After going through the aforementioned regimen, I would honestly feel as if I hadn’t run at all; I would feel as fresh as if getting out of bed after a 9-hour restful night. It was magic! I became one of those individuals who too could shop in Ikea, go to baseball games or go off to save the world. I started to recommend these torture sessions to all of my running buds; I had found the “fountain of youth” for runners, but alas, no one else was as brave – they wouldn’t even consider it!  

Fast forward: several marathons and half-marathons later and ice baths are a thing of the past. The reason … your body eventually gets used to the pounding of the pavement, and it magically appears to strengthen and endure all by itself – naturally. Where I used to spend my energy after a race running to fill the tub with ice, I now use that energy to find the first available beer and a nice meal to celebrate.